Voyaj is a platform that helps connect travellers and hosts worldwide for authentic cultural exchange and aims to bring back hospitality in the world. The app uses common interests between people to help them find the best matches.
I helped the founder of Voyaj build the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and then joined the team later on for 8 months to design and build the V1 of the app.
The MVP :
My first contact with Voyaj was in December 2014, when I helped the founder & CEO to create a simple MVP. The whole process took about a month, where we brainstormed the experience, created some mockups, and finally designed and built the app.
At that time, here is what the user flow looked like :
As we didn’t have much time, I used some of Google’s material design assets to help me design the interface and create something faster. Here’s a quick preview of the app :
When I joined the team in May, the first thing I started with was understanding where the company was going, what has been done with the MVP, analyse the different feedback we received and start thinking about the next steps to create a V1 of Voyaj.
The main screen of the MVP was a page with a searchbox where people are expected to search for interests and then specify a destination. I designed the experience that way thinking of it as a simple way for travellers to search for their hosts.
But one feedback I kept seeing was that people didn’t know what to search for when they landed on the app – and therefore, if they can’t search, they can’t find hosts, and if they can’t find hosts, they can’t meet, and if they can’t meet… well, you get where this is going.
So we clearly needed to rethink how the app worked.
A new User Flow :
While I was away, the company also started testing the idea behind Voyaj with manual trips, where the CEO manually matches travellers and hosts and suggests a “Voyaj” based on the travellers interests (no technology used).
What I noticed while analysing the process she used to create these manual experiences, is that travellers were more interested by activities and experiences they’re going to live at their chosen destination than simply meeting with other people from different countries/cultures.
An example would be that a traveller who comes to Morocco, would love to meet people to ride a camel, go snowboarding, or learn to make traditional Zellige patterns..etc.
So I suggested a new user flow, which is experience-based rather than people-based :
Because we wanted to go live as soon as we could, we ended up making another user flow inspired by the MVP. We simplified the experience and tried to fix all the issues people encountered during testing :
Improvements : Search
Keeping the search as the main entry point to finding travellers & hosts, I needed to suggest a better searchbox, one that will allow people to search for other people based on their interests and locations.
So after many mockups.. :
.. this is the version we ended up with :
We also introduced “Top Destinations” and “Top Interests” in the home page, to make it easier for people who don’t know what to look for to explore what we have to offer.
We evaluated the idea of adding an “explore” page as well (a kind of directory where we show a list of all the destinations and interests and allow people to navigate between them) but ended up keeping this for later to save time during development.
Improvements : Signup Experience
One of the issues people had with the MVP, was that it didn’t offer any way for them to smoothly fill all their information. Due to the lack of time we had to make the MVP, we just redirected users to their “Edit profile” page after signing up, so that they can complete their information, choose their interests..etc.
So we clearly needed a signup experience that will help people complete their info smoothly and therefore have a more enjoyable experience on the app, as well as help the company have completed profiles on the app and not ghosts.
To create this, we identified the absolute necessary information we needed from each person to be able to use the app, and tried to keep it in as few steps as we could.
The experience also needed to be enjoyable — no one really likes to fill in forms.
This is what we ended up with :
User Interface :
While creating the new interface and style for Voyaj, we wanted to have something simple, modern and adaptable.
User Profile :
Making a booking & Messages from the profile :
Testing, and improving again :
We started testing this version with some users, and we already could feel the excitement. People really liked it and so we quickly gathered some feedback to improve upon what we’d built. Which led to : better search results and filtering, improved inbox and a new dashboard experience.
Search Results :
The reason behind using the “Reply” button instead of just allowing people to type their message below the messages container, is that we didn’t have enough time to build real-time messaging into our app, so it worked in a way like sending emails.
But what happens when you design a conversation screen the way chatting apps are designed, is that people will send messages and wait for others to reply immediately, or see when they’re writing back.
So the solution I suggested was to make it a bit harder to reply to messages, by having an additional step. This friction along with the fact that now people have a bigger box to write their message, would cause people to understand what is asked of them and make them write longer messages and not shorter ones like having each sentence in a separate message, like “Hello!”, “How are you?”, …etc.
Dashboard experience :
We needed to design a dashboard that will allow people to see all their sent requests, received ones, their status, being able to rate a Voyaj experience when it’s done..etc.
Where can we test this?
Unfortunately, you still can’t signup to Voyaj, for now. The company is still testing this version and is expected to launch it very soon. To learn more about what they are up to, check out : www.voyaj.com.
Meanwhile, feel free to leave a comment below to share what you think or ask any questions.